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Car Safety Basics: Hot Cars Kill

As temperatures soar, for now anyway, here is a little reminder that leaving anything or anyone in a car during the hot weather is unsafe. You know when you get in the car on a sunny day and can’t shut the doors until you have opened the windows or got the air con on? Imagine that heat, then imagine sitting in it, getting hotter and hotter, unable to do anything about it.

You may have seen the stunts: people cooking eggs on the dashboard of a vehicle in direct sunlight, or men sitting in a hot vehicle for as long as they can. The fact is, that internal temperatures of a car on a sunny day can reach more than forty degrees. Dogs can die in minutes in these circumstances and despite most of us being aware of this fact, The Dogs Trust claims that more than 60% of us have seen a dog locked in a car on a sunny day at some point.

Of that 60% more than a third of people did nothing about it, 15% called the police to report the incident and 4% thought the situation so serious that they broke into the car themselves.

In addition to being covered in fur, dogs are not as good at regulating their temperatures as humans; they depend on shade and water to help them to cool down. In a hot car, there is no shade, no escape from the relentless heat. Dogs can dehydrate rapidly. The rules are simple:

  1. Never leave a dog (cat, child – anything) alone in a car. Even if it is not in direct sunlight or doesn’t feel particularly warm at the moment, in the summer cars can heat up rapidly.
  2. Don’t be fooled by thinking that you can park in the shade or wind down your windows – these actions aren’t effective enough to keep your car safely cool.
  3. Keep your dog (cat, child – anything) hydrated and make sure you have plenty of water with you. Stop regularly if it is hot, for water breaks.
  4. Keep the inside of your vehicle as cool as you can using air conditioning, sun shades or by opening the windows (be careful that you don’t open the windows enough for the dog to climb out).
  5. If you do see a dog in a hot car, call the RSPCA on 03001234999 or if you are in Scotland dial 03000999999 for the Scottish SPCA. If you think that a dog (or anything else) is in danger in a hot car, call emergency services (999) – break the window if absolutely necessary.

Having your windows down while driving can increase drag on the car. If you are driving at speed, it can be more efficient, and more effective, to switch on the air con. If your air conditioning isn’t working at full capacity, get in touch with a local air conditioning specialist, who will be able to service your unit and replace the gas if necessary, keeping you cool, whatever the weather.

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